State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will lead the newly-formed Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine, a mechanism to bring stakeholders, the Union government, and local and international aid organizations together to tackle the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Rakhine State.
She announced the new enterprise during a public address on Thursday evening, the second speech she has delivered since dawn attacks on police and military outposts by Muslims militants the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in northern Rakhine State on Aug. 25 killed 12 and plunged the region into violence.
On Sept. 19, she held a diplomatic briefing in Naypyitaw and explained her government’s efforts on Rakhine State affairs with regard to national reconciliation and peace.
In the past seven weeks, more than 500,000 self-identifying Rohingya Muslims have fled northern Rakhine State in what the UN has described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” with the Myanmar Army purposely driving out the Muslim population and destroying their property to prevent them from returning.
There have also been widespread allegations of rape, torture, extrajudicial killings committed by Myanmar security forces.
Some 30,000 ethnic Arakanese, Mro, Daignet, and Hindus were also displaced by ARSA violence, and more than a hundred civilians were killed by militants, according to the government.
The enterprise will tackle three main tasks: Repatriating and providing aid for those who have fled to Bangladesh, the resettlement and rehabilitation of returnees regardless of their race and religion, and establishing peace and bringing development to the region.
The vice chairman of the enterprise is Dr. Win Myat Aye, the union minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, who is also the chairman of the implementation committee for the recommendations of Dr. Kofi Annan’s Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.
Myanmar needs to continue doing the things that needs to be done, and “should be done correctly, bravely and effectively,” the state counselor emphasized.
“Rather than rebutting criticism and allegations with words, we will show the world by our actions and our deeds,” she said in reference to myriad reports of human rights abuses and criticism of the Myanmar government on the world stage.
She said: “We need to understand international opinion. However, just as no one can fully understand the situation of our country the way we do, no one can desire peace and development for our country more than us. That is why we need to tackle these problems based on the strength of our unity.”
As the Rakhine State affair is “a matter of national importance,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said, government would take a leading role at both Union and state level and give “serious consideration the sincere offers of cooperation made at home and from abroad.”
She invited non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and business leaders as well as the international partners, UN agencies, financial institutions like the World Bank and ADB, INGOs like the Japan’s Nippon Foundation and friendly countries, to join hands and cooperate with the government.
In her nine-minute long speech titled “Report to the People,” Daw Aung San Sui Kyi said, she places “great hope in our Union’s nationals” living within the country and abroad, and calling “all the sons and daughters of our Union” to give a helping a hand in resolving the Rakhine State issue.
She repeatedly emphasized, as in her previous speeches, the need to overcome the challenges with the power of people and extended her thanks to the public for the support they have been shown these days.
“There is no power which can compare with the support of the people, trust of the people and the unity of the people. I believe that no matter whatever difficulties we face, we can overcome, with the unity of our people,” she said.